Last Friday evening, Alicia Keys brought her Set The World On Fire tour, (to promote her Girl On Fire album) to London’s 02 arena and I must say, she definitely burned the house down.
Packed with a bunch of surprises, stunning visuals and an intimate crowd, Alicia definitely went all out for her last London date of the already successful world tour.
The opening act of the night was RnB favourite of the moment, Miguel, who performed several songs from his latest album Kaleidoscope Dream including current hits Adorn and How Many Drinks. He also performed previous singles from his debut effort, All I Want Is You.
Making sure he didn’t execute anymore WWE-style leg drops, Miguel soared his way through his brief set, showcasing fancy James Brown-esque footwork. The singer served up an outstanding vocal performance and introduced himself to a seated audience, some of which had never been acquainted with the star.
Sure, some members of the middle-aged audience may not have known who he was or knew little next to nothing about his content, but Miguel’s talent is undeniable. I wouldn’t be shocked if, in a few years time he’s selling out the 02 arena on his own.
At about 9pm, the last few sets of collaborative cheers faded as Miguel left the stage and the staging crew began to re-arrange the set as the audience waited in suspense.
Alicia was running a little late, but by around 9:30pm, the huge LCD backdrop in the arena displayed a collage of the streets of New York city (where she was born and raised) indicating that the show was about to start.
While a Streets of NY/Empire intro played in the background, it was clear that the singer had arrived.
Opening up with one of her signature songs, Karma, Alicia popped up on top of the stairs that would allow her to stride down onto her main stage, bopping from left to right in a black top hat, a silvery sequined top and figure-hugging leather pants, the crowd instantly joined in with one of Alicia’s signature songs that was released several years ago.
She then took fans on a trip through several other classics including You Don’t Know My Name, No One, Diary, If I Ain’t Got You and more, most of which she sat at her trademark piano, demonstrating her technical and skillful alternative talent.
Whilst she performed the songs, she really took the audience on a trip down memory lane. It served as a reminder to Alicia’s older audience – and those who grew up around the same time as her musical breakthrough, myself included – that she has indeed been around for a very long time, with a jam-packed catalogue to back up her lengthy career.
Towards the end of the evening, we saw Alicia engage in reggae breakdown segment, as the lighting changed to yellows, blues and greens, displaying a montage of dancehall colours. Alicia broke out into a series of playful whines and grinds. Certainly one of the most shocking moments of the night; but memorable to say the least.
Since it was the last date of the London shows, Alicia definitely couldn’t leave the UK’s capital without a bang… so what better way to get the crowd hyped than bring out London’s very own, Labrinth?
The crowd erupted when the Alicia introduced the singer to the stage and he rocked out to his smash hits, including Earthquake which was a nice touch to the night.
Alicia didn’t stop with the guest surprises just there, she then went on to bring John Legend on the stage and the two engaged in a beautiful rendition of Ordinary People.
Closing with her smash hit collaboration with Jay-Z, Empire State of Mind, Alicia had waved off the busy arena as she turned away and bowed in her slinky black dress.
After the concert, it was clear to me that any doubt or worry people may have over Alicia’s evident vocal changes over the past few years needed to present at the concert to witness that she can still carry her vocals well; perhaps not as smoothly as when we were first introduced to her, but still great regardless.
The only disappointment I found was that she didn’t really plug her new album; Girl On Fire to it’s full potential throughout the entire duration of the tour.
Sure, she performed the obvious singles taken from the album, but what about all of the songs that people had been waiting to witness live? Perhaps some altering could have been done to her set list to ensure she was delivering fresh material but either way, Alicia put on a great show and one that certainly impressed me.